Work survey shows Traveller prejudice

AROUND one-in-four workers would be unhappy to have a Traveller working alongside them, a new survey has found.

Although the number of Travellers employed in the construction industry has increased due to the economic boom, the unemployment rate in the community is still around 90%.

The recruitireland.com workplace discrimination survey found that while 24% would be unhappy to work with Travellers, just 4% would object to working with members of a different ethnic background.

The Travellers’ organisation Pavee Point said the findings were disappointing but not surprising.

Assistant director Martin Collins said: “I think it indicates how embedded discrimination and prejudice is in the Irish psyche towards Travellers and this manifests itself in a whole series of ways, and one of them is the unemployment rate among Travellers.”

He said the people who did not want to work with Travellers needed to reflect on their attitudes.

“Do they know anything about Travellers? Who’s feeding their prejudice?”

The non-representative survey, which was conducted last month among more than 700 visitors to the Recruit Ireland website, found 42% of respondents would be unhappy to share a workspace with someone with a criminal record.

Around 75% said they had either seen or experienced unfair treatment in work.

The Equality Authority said the survey’s findings on attitudes to Travellers in the workplace were disturbing.

Chief executive Niall Crowley said: “Our casework has raised issues of discrimination in terms of recruitment but also issues of harassment, and these are the sort of attitudes that lead to harassment.”

About 51% believed equality in the workplace was better than five years ago and 61% believed their employer took equality in the workplace seriously.

But nearly 20% said they had been asked a discriminatory question in a job interview. Most centred on families, religion and age.

One respondent said: “I was asked if being overweight hampered my ability to stand the pace of constant travelling and meeting deadlines.”

One was asked if her boyfriend was the jealous type because the job involved weekend trips away.

Solicitor Jennifer Cashman, with the legal firm Ronan Daly Jermyn, said employers were failing their obligations under employment equality legislation.

Meanwhile, the Equality Authority yesterday said almost 382,000 people surveyed (12.5% of those aged 18 years or over) felt they had experienced discrimination recently. Of those, 264,700 had experienced discrimination on one of the nine grounds covered by equality legislation.

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